Auto-Enter Options - File Maker

Now that you have the Auto-Enter options tab up on the screen, let’s take a look at all the other possible auto-enter options available for text, number, date, time, and container fields. Take a look at the above illustration as you learn about the options here.

Creation/Modification Date, Time, or Name
By checking this checkbox and selecting something in the drop-down menu, FileMaker will automatically enter the date, time, or name of a person at the moment a record is created or the moment a record is modified. For instance, if you have a CreationDate field set up to auto-enter the creation date, when you create a new record, CreationDate will be populated with today’s date.

If the same database also has a ModificationDate field set to auto-enter the modification date, any time anyone makes a change of any kind to the data in any field of a record in the database, ModificationDate will be updated with today’s date. It might go without saying, but creation and modification dates should probably be auto-entered into date fields only, creation and modification times into time fields only, and creator and modifier names into text fields only, although this is not required.

Serial Number
By checking this box and entering values below it, every new record created in a database will be given a unique serial number. For instance, because you’re putting a starting serial number value of “1” in the next value box for our CompanyID field, the next record created in Company.fp5 will have “1” autoentered in CompanyID. When you create another record, that record will have a RecordID of “2,” and so on. You can have a serial number begin and even end with text or other characters. Thus, a starting serial number value could be “A1A.” The next record would be “A2A,” and onward. Just make sure to test whatever serial numbering scheme you’re going to use before you start allowing people to create a lot of records in a database. You want to be sure that each record is, in fact, receiving a unique serial number. Unfortunately, you cannot directly have auto-entered alphabetic serial numbers such as “A,” “B,” “C,” “AA,” “AB,” “AC,” and so on.

Value from Previous Record
If this is checked, whenever you create a new record, the data that’s in that field on the record that you last accessed in the database will be entered into the field on the new record. So, say, if you have the zip code field in Company.fp5 set to auto-enter its value from the previous record, and you create a new record, that new record will have the same zip code as the company that you’ve presently got up on the screen.

Just as you set up for the State text field in Company.fp5, checking this box will enter whatever data you’ve typed into the associated box into that field for every new record in the database. You can auto-enter up to 255 characters into any field. Our State field has the data “IN” auto-entered in every new record.

Calculated Value
Automatically enters the result of a calculation formula into the associated field. When you check the box, you must specify the calculation that will build the result that is auto-entered. For instance, if you wanted the creation date and the creation time to be auto-entered into a text field, you would specify the following auto-enter calculation:

Looked-up Value
A looked-up value is a bit of data that is copied from a field in another database via a relationship. Essentially, however, looked up values (lookups) can be explained as such. If you’ve got an invoice database with an associated line items database, whenever you add a product as a line item on an invoice (the customer is buying it), you want certain fields to automatically “look up” certain bits of data from a products database, like the product’s name, price, or description, so that you don’t have to manually look them up yourself in some paper catalog or by calling your parts manager.

There’s one more checkbox on the Auto-Enter Options tab that has to do with what happens after the data you’ve set up to be auto-entered is entered.

Prohibit Modification of Value
By checking this box, as soon as data has been auto-entered into a field, like a record ID, a user cannot change the value. This would be especially important for our CompanyID field, for instance, because CompanyID will be used to relate the company database to other databases in our database system. If you allow a user to change a company ID, you run the risk of having duplicate records in Company.fp5 and/or losing related data associated with a given Company.fp5 record.

All auto-enter options aren’t available for every field type. The ones that are not available are common sense; for instance, you can’t auto-enter serial numbers into date fields. Unavailable auto-enter options for any given field will be grayed out. Because you usually want your key fields to contain stored/indexed values, this a good time to discuss Storage, the last tab of options available for a field.

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